I bought my Honda Helix back in November. I wanted a scooter for urban riding, but was hoping a bigger touring scooter would have slightly longer legs than a moped, and actually work as a distance bike. A previous owner had toured much of Europe on the thing, so it’s credentials are good at least. And as winter approaches, I realise I’ve almost had the bike a year. So is it any good?
This is moot, as for now I’m no longer allowed to ride in London without stumping up £12.50 a day - but as a city bike the Helix is… OK. Riding an automatic in city traffic is a revelation. Why didn’t I do this before? But the Helix is large and long, and struggles to wiggle through the really small gaps. Oh - and the mirrors manage to be at just the right height to worry lots of cars and vans. The other issue in town in that the road surfaces between lanes are often bumpy, with white lines and cats eyes - which the Helix shimmies and wobbles over in a slightly alarming fashion.
Oh - and because it’s long and low - you’re down at car driver height, rather than looking over the top of cars as you can with a more traditional motorcycle. But conversely the low laid back riding position makes me less fussed about being stuck in traffic. What’s another minute or two on your journey really?:
On the open road
This is the exciting bit. Although, since buying the bike and riding it home, I’d not managed to leave the grip of the North or South circular roads. But, I had a stag do to attend. And parking was limited… so clearly the Helix was the only sensible choice… it meant leaving London on the damn thing anyway.
I’d heard epic tales of a bike that should be good for 80 mph + - which surely means 70 mph cruising should be possible right? Er, no. The Helix was a big seller in the US, and it shows. The bike rockets (these things are all relative) up to 50 mph - continues less briskly to 60 mph - and then tops out at 65 mph. I saw 75 mph briefly, but the Helix didn’t seem to like it very much. Realistically you’re cruising at 60 mph. It’s comfy though, right?
Speedometer at rest…
The feet forward riding position looks like it should be comfortable - and it kind of is, but the riding position is a bit like sitting in a car seat, but a car seat with no proper back rest. Which leads to slouching a bit, which my back doesn’t like much.
That said, on the way home - I managed three plus hours in the saddle, getting 150 miles out of a tank, and when I got off the bike I could still walk. That wasn’t the case on my Triumph Sprint, which wasn’t as comfy as it should have been - and definitely not the case on my 400cc Honda Supersport thing, which was comfy (for some values of comfy) for 40 minutes to an hour before you HAD to stop.
This is the odd one. The super long wheelbase means the bike feels pretty stable. There’s plenty of leverage through the wide bars, and you can lean it over a fair old way without grounding anything out. BUT - the bike is cursed with tiny scooter wheels, so when you do hit a bump, white line, or other surface undulation, things just feel odd. Not unsafe, but you’re left wishing the wheels were a little bigger.
Ace. Stacks of room in the boot, plus a topbox to fill, and a tent bungied to the back. Scope to stick things in the step-thru too.
My fuel guage LCD has missing segments, so there’s a big void between 60 miles and empty. But as I was heading on a run, this was a first opportunity to check the mpg. I found a nice new app for iOS - called RoadTrip (I started with the free lite edition - but have recently upgraded to the full fat version. If you’re a mpg nerd it’s ace) - and the end result - a high of 82 mpg and a low of 72 mpg. And there was plenty of thrashing the bike, throttle to stop. I think I can cope with that.
Aren’t all bikes about this, just a little bit? Everyone loves the Helix. I get looks, questions, thumbs up. Admittedly mostly from other scooter riders, but some car drivers seem impressed too.